Italy. Day Two. Vernazza, Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre region of Italy is incredibly beautiful. The five towns are all close, located all along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. You can take a train or a boat to get back and forth between them, or you can hike along through the mountainside, along the cliffs and retaining walls, on very rustic, very old paths. After exploring Vernazza in the morning, we were excited to hike to Monterrosso. A beautiful trip, not for the chubby and out of shape – but I did it anyway!! Tommaso, my exchange-student-son from a couple years ago, was a great companion who was patient and helpful when I so often threw myself to the ground panting “HOW CAN WE KEEP GOING UP?! DOES THIS MOUNTAIN NOT HAVE A TOP?! When do we go DOWN?!”, trying to catch my breath and drink my water. 🙂 It took about two hours, I lost track of time because I kept passing out and Tommaso would have to revive me. Actually, even though it was challenging, we had a blast, walking from Vernazza north to Monterrosso, and collapsed into a bar the minute we got there for a well earned beer. We then spent the day exploring that beautiful city, and I put my feet in the Ligurian Sea, just because. Then, in the evening, we took the train back to Vernazza and enjoyed a relaxing dinner, and got to see how beautiful that place is at night!

Friday, we’re taking the train to Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the “5 Lands”, to explore that city, as well as Manarola and Corniglia as we take our time and make our way north back to Vernazza by evening! I’ll post about that Friday night or Saturday.

Marking the day

It was five years ago today that I collapsed at home and was taken to the hospital, marking the beginning of an ordeal that changed my whole life. If you don’t know that story, click here!

It seems crazy that it was 5 years ago – it feels like it just happened, but at the same tine it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

I am so grateful to the amazing people in my life who helped my family and I through that time. As awful as that was, it taught me how wonderful people can be, and how precious our minutes are. As I enjoy these extra innings of my life, I hope you all remember to enjoy your lives too. Love loudly, savor the world around you, every moment you can. Be a force of awesomeness and drag people in your wake! There is so much beauty to see, so much joy to share, so many people to embrace, and such an unknowably finite amount of time in which to do it – Be Relentless!

My Son!

As amazing as it sounds, my son had his last day of High School today! I’m so proud of him. Up next for him: a year in Germany, for his Gap Year Student Exchange Program, before he goes to college. I think the current plan is to come back after that and go to college for music composition and production.

I am super proud of his abilities as a musician and a composer, and jealous! I can’t wait to hear his music as he grows, and studies, and his talents expand even more.

Here’s a link to his Sound Cloud account, where he has a number of his songs posted. Check it out!

One of his songs, Jump, has over 11, 000 listens! His song Again was just chosen by the head of the Chelsea show choir, Company C, to be included in their Spring performance, where it was played with choreographed dancers performing to it. That was a pretty amazing honor for Max!

So, in honor of my son’s last day at school, here is a pic montage designed to make me cry.

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A quiet morning

Here we are, almost halfway into January, and I still feel like I haven’t yet recovered from the holidays!

So much quality family time, so much laughter and storytelling and love. Oy -so much food (yes, that’s the part I -and my waistline- need the most recovering from.)

So, this morning I’m up before almost everyone. Maggie crept quietly out of the house a while ago – she’s taking care of a friend’s dog today, so had to go do that early. It was wonderful having her boyfriend visit from Finland for the holidays. Now of course it’s hard on both of them because he’s back home. I see them and think simultaneously “Boy, I remember being 19, that exciting young love, waiting for your future to start” and also, at the same time, “Good Lord, was I ever that young?!”

Max and Jeanne are sleeping in. It’s Saturday, they deserve to. Max will work later, Jeanne will be grading her student’s homework, like normal on the weekend, but I think today will be a quiet day.

In a couple of hours I’ll head to Williamston Theatre. We closed Beau Jest a couple of weeks ago – what a treat that show was. Wonderful team on and offstage, and audiences just loved it. We set some attendance records! Such a gift, to hear packed houses filled with people laughing together, sharing a moment of lightness and joy.

Next up is a wonderful piece, Our Lady Of Poison, a world premiere by Joe Zettelmaier. The elevator pitch: “Mother-Daughter poisoning team. Italy. Based on true events.” ’nuff said. 🙂

So, today I’ll go in and see a stumble-through of that, we’ll have a production meeting, and I’ll do some more work on the next play.

Before that, though: A little quiet in the living room. The dogs are curled at my feet, and my cup of coffee is still mostly full.

I hope everyone has a restful, fulfilling Saturday!

Pic Post Friday!

I had a wonderful quick getaway with my amazing wife Jeanne earlier this week.   We stole a couple days from the schedule and visited Saugatuck, Michigan.  We stayed in the fabulous Hidden Gardens bed-and-breakfast, where I now want to live year-round.

We spent a lot of time on Lake Michigan, at Oval Beach. Just beautiful.   Here’s the only pic I took at the beach!


To get to the beach, you have to take a short walk from downtown Saugatuck, across the Kalamazoo River.  This chain ferry is the way to cross and, according to the operator, it’s one of only a handful still in operation across the country!

Here is the guy cranking us across the river. Yes, when offered the chance, I did some cranking! Life is short, try stuff, celebrate everything!  😁


Jeanne and I had a great time, it was a wonderful relaxing couple of days. Downtown Saugatuck is adorable with lots of parks and little shops and great food. (If you go, don’t miss The Southerner, or Phil’s!)

This flower shop has the best name ever.

We also enjoyed some relaxing and great wine at a cool place called Borrowed Time…

 

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With life being crazy, and politics driving everyone nuts, and work being always busy, and Jeanne and the kids going back to school in a week…. a little breathing room with the most important person in my world was just perfect.

I hope you’re all able to carve out some hammock time, whatever your version is, before long.  These are the moments all the hard stuff should lead to. Don’t forget to take them.

Good things!

This week needs a bit of perking up. Here, in no particular order, are some things of beauty I got a chance to see this week!

This image of Prince was something I found on the internet, the artist made it as a tribute to him.  Friday the 21st was the 1 year anniversary of his death.  I lost the link to it that shows the artist’s name, unfortunately. 

The march for science was this past weekend.  Among many, many articles about it, this was one of the best signs I saw posted online!

On a sunny morning, some times of the year, when the angle is right, the sun comes in and reflects off of my wife’s necklaces (that she’s hung on a spare towel rack!), and it fills the room with a million little explosions of color!

This week we started rehearsals for the next show at Williamston Theatre, Taking Shakespeare, and it’s going to be fabulous.  The script is smart, funny, thoughtful, hopeful, and just a terrific ride.  Plus, the cast is amazing, and it’s being directed by the wonderful Mary Job! Can’t wait for previews!  (This pic was taken by Chris Purchis, of me making some big announcement about something or other at first rehearsal!)

This is a pic of Maggie, in Finland, in a car with a couple of her host-siblings, Aatu and Venla!  Love it!

I took this shot a couple days ago in the theatre – the seats look cool in the ghost light!

Some Spring has sprung in our yard!

More spring in the front yard!

Arriving early for the Tigers game on Wednesday.  Man, what an incredibly beautiful night for a ballgame.  Sunny, 75 degrees, the park was full and buzzing with energy and smelled exactly how you want a ballgame to smell.  One of the best places to spend an evening that you’ll ever find!  🙂

Jeanne and I were raking in the yard, and I couldn’t resist taking this pic of the sunset.

I hope you’re finding the beautiful things in your week, too!

So many good things

The last couple of weeks have been been busy, and full of wonderful good things!

I celebrated my 4-month “getting out of the hospital” anniversary! Man, it still feels odd to say that. Not the “getting out” part, but the whole hospital thing. I mean, it’s still so much to process, and sometimes it almost doesn’t seem real, like it’s just something you read about, or might see on TV. But, I’m getting better, getting strength back, and have found myself more and more grateful for my life, and the people in it, every single day. That’s part of why today I’m posting about all sorts of good things!

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Stuff to celebrate:

*I’ve been able to stop dialysis! While not 100% healed! my kidneys have healed enough so that I don’t need to have my blood cleaned three times a week! This is such a giant weight lifted off my family and I, it’s hard to even describe. It’s a good thing.

*Getting to see 3 terrific pieces of theatre recently. The Last Romance at The Purple Rose, Carousel at Encore Musical Theatre, and Hamlet at The Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Had a great time at them all, and hopefully will see more soon!

*Getting a visit from Laura Thaisen! Laura was one of Williamston Theatre’s first apprentices, and she’s gone on to become a professional stage manager in Minneapolis, and we’re extremely proud of her. It was so great to have her visit, and to meet her significant other just weeks before they became officially engaged!

*We broke our yearly attendance record at Williamston Theatre! This is a wonderful thing, and we’re hoping that it’s a trend we’ll keep doing for the next few years.

*I did ten push-ups. Yes, ten. Go ahead and laugh, but a couple of months ago it was all I could do to hold myself up. This week I walked over a mile with my son and my dogs, and I did ten push-ups! Little steps, but they make me wanna take more steps.

*Guardians Of The Galaxy. Awesome. I am Groot. Enough said.

*We had a fabulous family weekend “up North”, playing games and napping and chatting and eating. We went to an entertainment center where we got to race go karts, and drive bumper cars, and I’m not gonna lie, I had a moment. A moment where I was driving my bumper car around, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I look up, and my parents and wife are sitting and watching (and taking video!), and they were laughing, and so happy, and every bumper car was filled with family: my kids, my sister, my nephews… We’re all smashing into each other and laughing our fool heads off, and the sense of wonderfulness was just, overwhelming.

This is the part where I want to write something about not taking things for granted, and celebrating life every chance you get, and how many times since getting out of the hospital I’ve said to myself “I almost missed this!” – those lessons and more are bouncing around in my head, and my heart, and I’m still processing them in so many ways, many times each day. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to write coherently about them…

Until then, friends, remember to tell the people you love how you feel, take joy in every well spent moment, and revel in how many moments truly are well spent.